Friday, March 20, 2009

Prince of Shut the Hell Up!

I realize that I said that your real post was coming about a week ago, but in my defense it was ridiculously complicated to get my ass back to Chicago, although I did get upgraded to first class. There was then involved and I may have still been a teensy bit drunk when I had to go to my class and learn about Carthusian monks and their vow of silence. I think my professor was daring me to fall asleep. But you don't read this for a recap of silent monks, but for mocking, so let's get moving.

I don’t own a PS3. I am a grad student, who lives on a diet of ramen noodles and am this close to getting scurvy, so a $300 console is a little bit beyond my means. My hetero lifemate, however, has a PS3, and she lets me mooch off her because she is a good man-wife. So this past Christmas break I played the new Prince of Persia Game.

I loved the first three, and the The Two Thrones is my favorite for the dark prince, who is snarky and bitchy and, thus, more interesting and I love him. It was interesting to see what they were going to do with this new installment to the series, if it was going to be a simple reboot or if they were going to take it in a new direction.

It’s a new direction, featuring a new prince and may or may not take place in Persia. I’m going to try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but in my zest for mocking things I may slip up, so just be wary.

The game itself is pretty damn good looking. It’s cell shaded and takes place on an enormous world platform. The character designs, more on that later, are pretty nice, and the basic moves are the same: wall run, magical leaping abilities, some really fucking annoying puzzles that make you wish for the sweet embrace of death.

The story line is that the prince (oh god, the prince), runs into Elika, the princess of some city whose name I forget. Apparently she’s this high priestess of Orman, and has to go around healing the land to re-trap Ahriman (and the pronunciation of this is just WRONG), the standard run of the mill demon who wants to enslave humanity, blah blah blah. The prince gets shanghaied into this, and throughout the course of the story you learn more about him and Elena, as they grow closer.

Of the series, I have to say that this newest installment is the easiest. Elika, as super magical priestess, will not let you die. That means if you fall off a cliff or miss a jump or wall run, she’ll pull you back to the last platform. If you’re like me and get frustrated with the characters and deliberately kill them to make yourself feel better, you’re out of luck in this game. Which is too bad because the prince gets really damn annoying.

Remember how in the other games you would run around like an idiot for an hour trying to find your way out of one room? Yeah, not a problem in this game. Elena has this magical glowing sperm homing spell that shows you the way.

I dare you to tell me that doesn’t look like a magical, glowing sperm. Dare you!

There is a new aspect to the game: the prince has a claw thing that allows you to slide down walls and do this weird ceiling crawl, which freaks me out. Anything man-sized scuttling around with a bug is freaky.
In fights, you can do some nifty combos with Elika, but in all the battles get repetitive. You fight four main bosses, five times each, and in the case of the Concubine, it’s irritating because she never STOPS TALKING. Each of the bosses adds a little effect to make running around a little more perilous: the Concubine sends weird bird bugs things after you, which knocks you off walls and what not, and there’s moving blobs of darkness that suck you in, and tentacles that flail out from the wall. So hunting the bosses down gets a little bit tricker.

After you restore each of these “fertile grounds,” which you need to do to stop Ahriman, the landscape changes from dark and depressing grays and blacks to warm colors, and it’s quite pretty.
After each of these fertile grounds are restored, you have to collect these light seeds to open new areas to explore, and is an irritating time consuming part of that game that you could totally do without.

You open new areas by unlocking these magic panels, which are more ridiculous than anything. One makes you fly, in a not cool at all way, two make you leap about like Lord of the Dance, and the last you can run up walls. In execution, I’m pretty sure it’s not as amazing as the game designers thought it would be in the brainstorming stage.

At a certain point in the game it becomes clear how it’s going to end, and I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t say what it is. I don’t like the ending because it basically negates everything you did up until then, but does nicely set up the sequels. Now let’s talk about the characters.

Elika: At first I was worried she was going to be like Farah: unplayable, pretty much useless, but not terribly annoying. I was happily proven wrong. While you can’t control Elika directly, you can use her in your combos, and she is your saving angel, sort of serving the function the Dagger of Time did. But beyond that, she’s a well-rounded, developed character. Also, look what she’s wearing!

When's the last time you saw a woman in the video game wearing actual clothes? Her boobs aren't in the danger of popping out to say HI! And pants! She's wearing actual pants! Not any of these pantie weird leggings crap but pants! Sure, she doesn't have on shoes, which is sort of sketchy in a Hey! She's from the desert! They have no need of shoes! race wise way for me, but still, well done with resisting the blatant T&A.

Character wise, she's very dedicated and strong and brave, even when she's knows what the consequences are. Compared to the Prince of Whine, she should be the titular character. And she's more engaging than the prince, which leads me to him. Look what I did there with the segue.

Hi, I'm a giant tool!

So the prince in this is, well, as my friend put it, "Oh god, is he trying to be Indiana Jones?" They tried to make him a smart-ass, who got sucked into this quest and makes snarky comments and is rugged and manly and blah blah, but good god is he annoying. There were a few moments where he got a "heh" out of me, but mainly he was just really damn irritating, and the voice actor didn't sell most of the lines.

Also, what the hell, voice actor and writers? While the games all take place at some nebulous time in the past, I think we can all agree that no characters should be talking like the dude at the corner 711. In the first three games at the least the voice actor had a little bit of an accent (which, okay, sure was sort of British), and the word choice and syntax echoed more formal speaking of the past (again, sort of reminiscent of Victorian England), but in this game they've given up all pretenses of that.

Who cares about speech and accents when we can just make them as white as possible? Cultural appropriation is fun!

At one point the prince is all infected by the weird dark puddle water crap, and I had high hopes they were going to rehash The Two Thrones and have a schizo voice, who just snarks and makes fun of the prince, but unfortunately that was not the case and I had to suffer through more of the prince's retarded and endless prattling.

Fortunately, Elika does some nice snarking of her own, and doesn't hesitate to make fun of the prince and call him on his endless bullshit. Elika saves the game.

I blew through the entire game in about three days, so it's not difficult. It's not a great game, but if you can overcome the urge to smash the prince's face in, it's a nice way to waste an afternoon. And just think of all the sequels we get to spend with the Prince of Whine who makes bad life decisions. Than god Elika and her awesomness is there to cancel out his whiny, inane failed snark.
Of course I will play the other games for I am a consumer whore. A sad, mocking comsumer whore.


Darcy said...

I kinda wish they made toys with pull strings still, maybe they could have digital voice boxes that I could hack? Then we'd have a pull string Prince of Persia doll that says "Hi! I'm a giant tool!" and oh how we would laaaaaugh!

I live in a dreamland.

Danicus said...

Yeah, a prime example of "The Whitening". *Sigh*

fluffybluesheep said...

Elika: disgust me...
I was expecting an Indian Jones hat to come out of nowhere and perch itself on his head. Also, wtf wasn't Rorschach in this game? I demand Rorschach to be in every game. EVERYGAME